Blazers' Steve Blake to stop wearing No. 25 in honor of late Jerome Kersey

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Dan Devine
Blazers' Steve Blake to stop wearing No. 25 in honor of late Jerome Kersey
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Jerome Kersey, one of the most talented, energetic and beloved players in the history of the Portland Trail Blazers, died Wednesday at age 52 after a blood clot traveled into his lung following knee surgery earlier this week. The sad news hit Kersey's fans, former teammates and countless others hard, and, as you might expect, left many wondering how the Blazers organization might honor the revered forward, who still ranks in the top five in franchise history in a slew of categories nearly 20 years after he left Portland upon being selected by the Toronto Raptors in the 1995 NBA expansion draft.

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While an official organizational tribute is reportedly still being ironed out, Blazers reserve guard Steve Blake — who has spent parts of five seasons in Portland over three separate stints, and rejoined the club in free agency back in July — decided Thursday to do what he could to honor the late Blazers legend, From Jason Quick of The Oregonian:

When he arrived at the Trail Blazers facility on Thursday morning, he stopped at the office of assistant general manager Bill Branch and made a request.

If he could have any say in it, Blake wanted to make sure No. 25 in Portland was preserved and honored. He wanted to change his number.

"To honor him," Blake said. "To honor his jersey."

As Blake went off to practice, wearing his No. 25, Branch started making phone calls. The league office was consulted. The equipment team put on alert.

By the time practice had ended, the word had come in: The NBA is allowing Blake to switch jerseys. Starting with Friday's game [against the Utah Jazz], Blake will now wear No. 5.

"I just wanted to do that for him," Blake said. "Hopefully the fans will understand it."

The Blazers confirmed the change Thursday night.

“Jerome Kersey meant a lot to this team and to this city,” Blake said in the team's statement. “I've known Jerome for a long time now and wanted to honor him and his vast contributions both on and off the court. I consider it an honor to wear the number 25, but this just seemed like the right thing to do.”

It's also a thoughtful, classy and respectful move from the 12-year veteran, who's averaging 4.5 points, 3.8 assists and 1.9 rebounds per in 20.8 minutes per game behind All-Star Damian Lillard off the Blazers' bench this season.

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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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